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AmCup: Richard Gladwell's in-depth look at INEOS Team UK's test boat, aka the 'Water Bug

SAN FRANCISCO (#1078) – The INEOS Team UK test boat is a hybrid of a QUANT 28 sports boat hull with ballasted side-foils and a t-foil on the rudder which mimic those to be used on an AC75, the foiling monohull to be used in the 36th America's Cup at Auckland in 2021. Over the past three weeks we have run photos of Sir Ben Ainslie's (GBR) boat, that Sailing Illustrated has dubbed the "Water Bug," in the cradle at their Plymouth, UK team base, being craned into the water, dockside, and under tow. But we'd seen no photos or videos of it under sail until yesterday, when we posted this brief article and video.

Richard Gladwell (NZL), our longtime friend and now journalistic colleague (he is the esteemed NZL editor of, has penned an in-depth look at the boat that your Ed. thinks many of our readers will find quite interesting. I don't necessarily agree with everything Richard writes, but then I am sure the feeling is mutual.

The main point is that yesterday's 12-second video shows the foiling monohull in stable flight. As Richard says in his often used third-person style of writing, "It is not known whether the foiling is under manual or full computer control." Truth is it is likely somewhere in between.

What is clear in the video is that the boat is quick, so quick that some have suggested the video has been sped up. I have run it at .75 speed and .5 speed, and it does not look, or sound, right at those speeds. Could it have been sped up slightly? Sure, but if you were Sir Ben or his CEO Grant Simmer (AUS) why would you do that? To what advantage? None that your Ed. can think of. Besides, the video was shot from another sailboat, said to be a Dragon Fly 25, by Harry Aitchison and posted on the London Corinthian Sailing Club's Facebook page Tuesday evening London time. Less than 24 hours later it has had over 150,000 views. So it seems legit, but I have nonetheless sent it to an audio/video forensic analyst friend, also a sailor, and we shall report back with his views in due course.

We made the point in yesterday's post that it was a bit odd that the video suddenly stopped just after the yacht lowered it's windward foil into the water as if to attempt a tack or gybe (it's a British yacht so we'll use the UK-english spelling; "jibe" to you, LOL, Yanks). Perhaps that maneuver did not go so well and the loyal GBR patriots that no doubt Mr Aitchison and the London Corinthian are did not care for us to see what came next. So it may fly, but can it turn?

The INEOS Team UK test yacht has been photographed with floats (amas) attached on wings apparently to keep it from tipping over when not sailing. If the AC75s have to add and remove such floats, one suspects there will be wide derision within the sailing community. The designers say it should be stable under tow and dockside with both of the ballasted foils in the fully-down down position. Time will tell.

Richard's photo essay is a MUST READ for AC fans, and others who are technically inclined. Read it here.

Sir Ben Ainslie's test boat "at rest" – fitted with floats (amas) that make it look like a cross between, what, a Water Bug and the "NCC-1701" ENTERPRISE in Star Trek? Photo courtesy of the Blur Sailing Team via Sail-World.

"Captain, it may not be logical, however it does appear we can fly. But can we turn at Warp Speed?"